Treatments for Neck Pain
June 26, 2006
Neck pain is one of the most common complaints as we age.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain has many causes, but some of the most common are muscle inflammation, bone spurs, disc bulging or disc herniation, and vertebrae misalignment.
What creates muscle inflammation?
Muscle inflammation can be caused by trauma (an external injury) like falling down or a car accident. Repetitive motion is another possible cause, like tilting your head while talking on the phone, or slouching at a computer. Tension resulting from stress is the most common cause.
How does stress cause muscle inflammation?
Think about when you get angry and your shoulders rise up to your ears. Thatâ€™s where they are all day long when you are stressed out.
What is a bone spur?
A bone spur is an outgrowth of the normal bone. Think of rubbing your hand over a smooth piece of wood and you hit a splinter. OUCH! That sensation is similar to what a bone spur does to the tissue within the body. Ouch again!
What is a disc bulge or disc herniation?
A disc is the cream filling of an Oreo cookie. When you push down to hard on one side or the other of the cookie the cream filling starts to bulge out the other side (bulging disc). If the filling breaks off and hits the floor (darn it!), then it is herniated (herniated disc). Both of those cases may impede a nerve, creating numbness and tingling down the arm and pain. The cause again is repetitive motion, trauma, or chronic muscle inflammation.
Treatments for Neck Pain
What you can do?
1. Stretch and move the head and neck slowly taking deep breaths in each position.
2. Breathe! Breathing in itself is relaxing and therefore helps to reduce stress. Breathing itself moves the muscles around the neck, loosening them up.
3. Rub the area that is painful and follow it until you find the origin, the rub it some more until the pain diminishes (five minutes).
What else can be done?
Acupuncture is an excellent method in treating neck pain. Acupuncture reduces inflammation and resolves stress, taking care of two problems at once.
What if I have a bone spur or a herniated disc?
Both of those conditions require x-rays or an MRI to make a proper diagnose. You would need to see an orthopedic specialist. After a diagnosis is given the orthopedist may recommend anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, physical therapy, or surgery. Alternatives or compliments to those choices are acupuncture, massage, herbal therapy, cupping, exercise, and/or chiropractic care.
Prevention of Neck Pain
I recommend prevention early because as we age, like an old door hinge, we need a little extra outside lubrication if we do not want to squeak.
1. Start becoming aware of your body. You need to pay attention to when your shoulders are becoming stiff. When they do, relax them and breathe. Similarly, when you tilt the head in one direction for long periods, tilt the head in the opposite direction the same amount of time to balance the muscles out.
2. Proper nutrition and rest
3. Daily stretching routines in the morning and at night
4. Headsets for the telephone
5. Bimonthly massages
6. Bimonthly acupuncture care to reduce inflammation